I met a couple friends recently at 'Inoteca wine bar in Manhattan to chat about their upcoming trip to Ireland, which I visited earlier this summer, over plates of assorted bruschette and cured meats. Most of the Italian wines on the by-the-glass list were unfamiliar to us—I either knew the grape, region or producer, but never all three at once. (I was reminded of the experience Matt Kramer described in his recent column, “Are You Afraid of Italian Wines?”)
While my friends experimented with different reds from Piedmont and Tuscany, I targeted the lighter side of the list, whites and rosés. I've enjoyed Damilano's Barolos and Barberas, so I figured its 2009 Arneis—a variety native to the Piedmont region—was a good bet at $10 a glass. Crisp with citrus, mineral, white peach and cantaloupe, its fresh character went nicely with the fagiolo (white beans) with mint bruschette, though it was a bit overwhelmed by the richer caponata (eggplant). I also liked it with a panini of fontina, spinach, mushroom and porcini oil; the wine seemed to meld with the earthiness of the fontina and mushrooms while still cutting cleanly through the richness of the cheese. 87 points, non-blind.
Everyone's willingness to try something different paid off. Each of us ended the evening with a new discovery we’d be happy to revisit.